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halcyon: “denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy at peaceful” (

Whitman turns the concept of “halcyon” on its head by calling the years of old age blissful and edenic, as compared to the virtues of youth and middle age. While “life wanes”, the subdued passions lend a new peace to life.

“Teeming quietest” is a crux of the contrast. As love and lust diminish, the energies of the passions are better channeled into the peace and quiet of nature, “the evening sky,” and the writing of poetry.

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Not from successful love alone,
Nor wealth, nor honord middle age, nor victories of politics or
But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,
As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky,
As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier, balmier
As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs
really finishd and indolent-ripe on the tree,
Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all!
The brooding and blissful halcyon days!